american birkebeiner, 2015.

whoa guys…where has February gone?! i mean, for months and months, especially since the start of winter AND even more so, since the start of this year, the primary athletic event at the forefront of my mind has been the Birkie (the American Birkebeiner). i signed up for this event once, a few year ago because some friends were doing it and i thought it might be fun. needless to say, i never actually went and did the race. so, it’s been on my mind and on my (yet to be seen) bucket list ever since. the year i signed up before now i wasn’t committed to training. i think i skied a whopping 2 times that season. and i decided it was best to sit it out.

but this year…this year was different.

maybe a year ago from now, i began making some changes in my life. let’s say – in my personal life. i realized some things i was doing that were opposite of setting myself up for success. some call it self-sabotage. (i usually look at things through rose-colored lenses, though). anyway, i knew, above all else, it was time for a change.

and so much has changed. adios not so great relationships. hello new job that was a bit of a leap. welcome back, training like an actual athlete. oh, and that dust that sat atop the generally fun-loving, quirky, busy, introverted weirdo i am…it’s been dusted off.

i decided to make a change and then things just started becoming more clear and more obvious. and when a few random friends mentioned they were doing the Birkie this year, i though, “well, why the heck not?!”

a funny thing about this race is that it pretty much fills up before Thanksgiving every year and then you wait to see if there will be snow and how darn cold it will be and all of that jazz. this year, there was not a lot of snow, and not too much cold. i’m not going to say that’s a combo i don’t enjoy – except when i’ve signed up for this big race. oh  well! there’s training to be done.

i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again: thank goodness for my friend and ski buddy Cindi who adventured with me (well, she got me to adventure with her) to some ski wonderlands…or i would have had a bit more trouble with this event. not only did she get me out there – she gave me a few excellent tips…and i swear i walked away from Saturday really pleased with my first Birkie result because of them. i heard, “keep your arms closer to your body” about a hundred times. i repeated it to myself about a hundred thousand times on race day. she gave me tips about climbing hills. and BOYYYYY were there hills! and lastly, the night before the race, i got a text that said, ” have fun and don’t crash! ;)”

YOU GOT IT!

i went into the race with a baby goal in my mind – to finish close to 5 hours. i’ve said to a few people close to me that i could have probably achieved that if: 1. i hadn’t started in wave 9 and 2. if i had more ski experience. you see, starting in wave 9 meant lots of slow uphills, especially at the start and some backed up downhills throughout the race. also, the conditions were pretty close to “fair” by the time i skied the course. again, oh well! ski on. as for #2, you can really only get better at skiing by skiing more. period.

Birkie, you’d be safe to guess you’ll be seeing me again!

rw quoteone of the things i was really, really looking forward to though in the Birkie though is that i’ve realized over the past 5 or so years…i’m truly an endurance lover. so, as the race goes on, i usually just keep on, too. just coming through the halfway point of the Birkie, i was feeling really good and with just 20k to go, i thought to myself, “this is just like the Lake Monona route and i can almost run that in my sleep.”

not only is the quote above indicative of the feelings i have about distance events, but its also especially fun to think about in terms of cross country skiing.

one of the best things i’ve discovered in training for this event is that, well, for one, i suck at directions. i mean, i’d probably not venture into the woods in the snow on my own. but in xc skiing, you really have no other choice. training for the Birkie and xc skiing is like one of those choose your own adventure books. you can go this way or that and eventually you’ll get where you need to go – but the path is different. it’s no different than any of life except that you actively get to decide over and over again over the course of your ski-venture.

on Birkie day, i took none of that for-granted. and it was amazing. yes, the first 10k or so were brutal on what they call “the powerline.” it’s a constant up and down and up and down and up and down again. at first i thought, “WHAT DID I SIGN UP FOR?!” as my heart was maxing out at 175 beats per minute. but soon after, we headed into the woods and i was like “WHOA, THIS IS GORGEOUS!”

i must have been smiling at the first and second and every aid station. but even in the very beginning, even some of the volunteers noticed. (the volunteers, by the way, fantastic!)

and so it went, i skied and i enjoyed my time out in the woods. i took it all in. there were flurries flying by as i made my way south from Cable to Hayward through one of Wisconsin’s most treasured areas of the Northwoods. somewhere near 20k down, i skied up to my pal Mike who was also out there doing this race for the first time. it was awesome to see him and we ended up skiing together – or nearby one another for i swear close to 10k. and just after we separated, i ran into my friend Kristi who, by this time, is a seasoned Birkie competitor. she joked earlier in the week that she hoped to see me over the weekend, just not on the course, and then, of course, my goal was to chase her down by the end of the 51km. we skied together for a minute and laughed about our encounter and caught up more after we finished.

i wish i had been able to capture, in pictures, the beauty and fun that i had on that Saturday, a few days ago, in the Northwoods in February, but you’ll have to take my word for it…and maybe do the race yourself one day.

instead of going on and on though, i came up with a list of sorts to help explain my experience to all of you. i hope this gives you a simple picture, and some laughs about the experience….

so, without further ado:

SHAY’S BIRKIE 2015, BY THE NUMBERS!

2 bus rides – one to the start line and one back to the car at the end of the day

1 trip to the port-a-potties before the race

1/2 banana on my way to the start line. i decided NOT to eat the other half off the ground after 10,000+ people had already walked over that snow

7 restless hours of sleep the night before

1 trip to the UP – to ABR ski area for the inaugural ski of this season

30 (or more) laps at Lapham Peak ski area on their man-made loop of snow

1 day of skiing at Iola Winter Sports Park

1 long day of skiing at 9-mile in Wausau

6 coats of wax – an estimate because i actually don’t know how to wax my own skis

25 – dollars spent on hand and toe warmers this winter

2 warm (thanks to hand warmers in my vest pockets on race day) vanilla power gels

1 disgustingly cold vanilla bean GU (seriously, the hand warmer idea was GOLDEN. have you ever had cold GU? take my word and don’t try it)

10-ish cups of lukewarm water at aid stations

12-ish cups of warm ENERGY. which volunteers shouted to indicate they had either Nuun Hydration or GU Energy drink for us. ENERGYENERGYENERGY!

3-4 ‘nilla wafer cookies

1 oreo-like cookie

1/4 chocolate chip cookie. i could have eaten the entire cookie at the top of this hill

1 bitch hill. no, really, that’s what the locals call it. also, where i had the heavenly chocolate chip cookie piece.

2 (or 3) snowmobile gangs. these guys were hilarious and made me laugh. they’d heckle you and tell you to slow down around sharper turns…but cheer if you made it through unscathed.

1 easy fall trying to step around someone who had fallen right in front of me early in the race.

0 crashes!

1 shot from the shot ski or an apple pie-like beverage. also: a proud member of the 39k club!

51 kilometers through the Northwoods of Wisconsin from Cable to Hayward, WI

2 big cups of chicken noodle soup afterwards

1 bitch hill belgian ale at the angry minnow brewpub with dinner

countless smiles and high fives and congrats.

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ok, there you have it! this was one of the best things i’ve ever done. going back to the quote, and to a year ago, i had no idea what the past 12 months would hold, but by actively choosing my own adventure in life, by choosing another path, i got to show up last weekend ready to tackle just about anything. i got to tackle the amazing American Birkiebeiner!

AND, i realize that i get to do that, to choose my own adventure every single day.

 

 

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cat’s outta the bag.

well friends, you heard it here first…

actually, you’re hearing it right now for the first time.

just before my head hit the pillow (the pillow it barely left all weekend as I was laid up with some awful virus) on sunday night, I did it. I registered for the Madison Marathon.

ok, no gasps, really. I love this city. I love it in the fall. and truth be told, I needed a little kick in the ass ahem, motivation to help me find my running groove again.

the past, let’s say 6 months or so….have left me straying ever so slightly from my original love. and honestly, I want her back. I am not too proud to say I missed you, running. I’m not too big to admit that I left you hanging. I knew it all along and while I’ve given you just enough attention to keep this flame we have flickering going, I realize now that I’m not the same without you. Nope, I guess distance really does make the heart grow finder. Oh, and relationships like ours, why yes, they take work. and running, please remember this: you are worth it.

it was funny that I was lying in bed all weekend ill. ok, funny in a “this is a sign, shay, to get your @$$ in gear and to treat your body better and to start prioritizing the most important things.”

all funnies aside, on sunday night, I recommitted – to running and to really being the best me there is.

oh, and some gorgeous new Mizunos showed up at my door friday afternoon and I haven’t even gotten them out for their maiden voyage yet. embarrassing.

I really do know how to rub salt in a wound….

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the difference.

this post is one part race report and one part inspiration. i woke up at 6am saturday morning ahead of the Ice Age half marathon. the race was slated to begin at 9am, so i figured i would hop out of bed, grab a little food and coffee and hit the road by about 7am to get there with just under an hour to start time.

the morning went off, pretty much, without a hitch. i actually rolled out of bed and into the running clothes i had laid out the night before. surprise, surprise…i was prepared. within minutes, my things were packed and i decided that with the 40 minutes before i wanted to leave, i’d quickly hit up the Madison farmer’s market. i narrowly missed it the week before and i wanted to grab some ramps, asparagus, and the most important thing – bacon! so, i made a quick loop, grabbing what i came for – plus a few more things, saying “HI” to some friends along the way, and jumping back into my car just before 7am. i swung by my house to drop off my goodies and was on my way!

the drive was easy. i grabbed my timing chip and bib in minutes and while relaxing in my car before warming up and deciding what i’d ultimately race in, i saw that fellow former-Badger, turned professional triathlete Gwen Jorgensen had won her second WTU race in Asia sometime in the last 12 hours. i got pumped up watching the highlight video and was really ready to go. my own silly goal in my mind was that i’d better beat Gwen’s finish time in my measly half marathon.

(read that with sarcasm, please. heck, it least it put a time to beat in my mind)

soon enough, i changed into shorts, deciding i would be warm enough wearing my MS Run Athletes kit (top and shorts) along with arm sleeves for the race. i warmed up and headed to the start line area with just under 10 minutes to 9am. when i arrived, the race director noted a discrepancy in start times posted on various online outlets and shared with us all his decision to postpone the start to 9:30 to allow for the mistake. so, i relaxed a bit more. took in some more water. and took the opportunity to stretch and warm up again.

one thing i’ve learned throughout my running ‘career’ is that for me, a warm-up is an important game-changer. i seem to get better as i go, as a general rule of thumb, which is probably why i enjoy ultra running. but more on that another time.

so, we started promptly at 9:30. the only thing i’ll note about the start is that there was a woman and about six men who took off like rockets right out of the gates. somebody made a comment about the woman in the group – which i find particularly funny because was the eventual overall woman! HELLS YES! i never saw her, but went out mildly aggressive to get away from the crowd a bit and gave myself until the first aid station to try to get settled into a rhythm. it was ok, but the first section of the loop was hilly so i eventually settled in, probably around mile 4ish. i had a bit of company for a mile or so which helped break things up – and i love having a brief conversation here and there. i think that helped me feel settled.

near the last mile i notice my friend Kristin who was doing the 50k up ahead. i didn’t have enough juice in me to sprint, but i caught up to her and we chatted for a bit. it was REALLY good to see a familiar face on the course and seeing Kristin, whom i admire greatly, lit a spark in me. we parted ways, but i told her i’d see her at the finish later and i took off again. at that point, i was near the half-way and noted my time, primarily so i could work to stay steady on the second loop.

i had another buddy for a bit of the first loop and then sort of got into my groove and just went. the second loop was good because i knew it would be hilly and also had some flats that i knew i could look forward to. there were also lots of 50k runners joining onto the course which was just the perfect amount of distraction. i loved running by them and telling them “good job.” this is one of the best things about trail running! anyway, i hammered away steadily and probably about halfway through the second loop i noticed a man who had passed me at about the same point in the first loop up ahead. he hadn’t disappeared and i decided i would work to chase him from that point to the finish.

i eventually caught and passed him with more than 1.5 miles to go and finished in 1:51.20. that was good for 6th woman, and officially 2nd in my age group – though they handed me a first-place plaque – which i realize today is incorrect, though the real #1 woman in my age group was the woman who won overall. anyway, i’ll take it! i’ll take it because i went out there and put out an effort that i was truly proud of. i remembered my motto, “constant forward motion” and that kept me pushing on, even when the hills seemed endless. oh, and i did beat Gwen’s time.

but another reason i brought up Gwen and also Badgers is two-fold. first, a great coach that i looked up to while at the UW had some media availability last week and he said something that really hit home. you can watch the video by clicking this link, but his wisdom that prevailed in my mind was, “the difference between the first eight and the second eight is simple. the first eight pulls harder, pulls longer, and is more determined….” (the specific comment is at about the 1:50 mark in the video)

and then today, this morning, in fact, i read Gwen’s race report which touched on a similar note. she says,

“Bobby McGee once told me, “Do you know what the likelihood of you feeling great at the Olympics is?” I shrugged as I had never thought about it.  “Zero percent,” he said. And he is right. The chance of feeling great on the one day you work towards for four years is pretty slim.”

and this is true, wherever you are in your sport if you’re trying to reach the next level. you’ve got to show up, do the work, and realize – the truth of the greats isn’t that they’ve trained so that their best race doesn’t hurt – they’ve trained to have the determination to push through no matter how hard it gets.

so on saturday while i was out there, when it felt particularly tough, i reminded myself that the best i could do was to keep going – to persevere – to not give up. i may never compete at the elite level but i do know what makes the difference in getting me from where i am to where i’m going.

it’s as true for running as it is for every facet of life.

giving back.

i’ve got a few races on the horizon and while fall is usually the time of year when racing starts gearing down, i feel like i’m just getting started. i am just getting started in a new chapter of my training and in my active lifestyle. running will always be an enormous part of what i do, but this winter i’m looking forward to expanding my horizons a little bit.

i am kicking off my new adventures with the North Face Endurance Challenge – GOREtex 50 miler on september 15th. (yes, that’s 8 days from now). after that, i’m planning on doing the Tyranena Beer Run – a fun half marathon in Lake Mills, WI in the beginning of November. i’m also going to take up swimming this fall/winter. in february i’ll be racing in my my first Birkie (the American Birkebiener) and then in april, since i deferred my 2012 entry to 2013, i’m planning on running the Ice Age 50. whew.

and who says i am not a good planner? (maybe no one says that. it might just be in my head)

anyway, with all of the racing and training i’m doing in the future and because of all that running has given me in the past, i decided it was time to give back.

i had been looking for things that were close to my heart – issues or organizations that would fit my passions that i could devote some of my time and resources to. i’m young and i can’t always offer lots of money, but what i do have are legs and lungs and a body that works. what i do have is a load of family and friends and a great network of GENEROUS and CARING people in my life.

so when i saw a tweet from Ashley over at MS Run the US that she was looking for athletes to help her out with something, i responded to her call. you see, i’ve been following Ash for a few years as she ran across the US to raise awareness and money for Multiple Sclerosis. i was in awe! she’s an inspiration. it didn’t take long to know that i wanted to get involved in this cause.

MS is a disease which ultimately causes people to lose some of their mobility and strength and control. often, it isn’t life-threatening, but it is enormously life-changing. personally, i know more than a handful of people who have been impacted by the disease in one way or another. i know people who have MS themselves and i know people who have family members who have it.

because the MS impacts so many people i know and care about, it is personal to me.

but also, i’m an athlete and anyone who knows me knows that being fit and active and healthy are a huge part of who i am. being a part of the rowing team in college was the primary reason i stuck college out when it got tough. after college, running has gotten me through so much. running helped me cope with the transition to adulthood, it helped me to recover quickly from a fairly invasive surgery, and it helped me to cope with a fire that cost me my home.

i might not always have much to offer in the way of money, but i thought that with all that running has given me – because my body still almost always can do what i ask of it, i knew i had to be a part of this team.

an anecdote i’m always reminding myself of is:

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” (t. roosevelt)

and what i can do right now is to be a steward of this cause. my goal is to do my part to spread awareness about MS and to help raise some money for the cause.

and that’s where you come in.

like i said before, i know i don’t always have the monetary resources to make an enormous impact, but i do believe that every little bit helps. i believe that our connections with others are what makes us strong. i believe that a lot of little bits make a greater impact than what we can do on our own.

so what can you do?

there are a couple of ways to help:

  1.  stop by my FirstGiving page and donate $5 or even $10 to the cause.
  2. pass it along. please share the link to this post or to my FirstGiving page. retweet me. share it any way you know how (because like i said, together we are much stronger than we are alone)

i want to thank you all in advance. for reading my blog. for being supportive to me. for helping me to give back.

and, have an awesome weekend! i know i will…

the marquette trail 50. a race recap.

the to-do list in my mind is growing to epic proportions. it seems like it is a mile long and that mile is one can’t run – instead, i need to be deliberate and go with care until the light at the end of the tunnel appears.it is kind of like distance running. my life right now is certainly like an ultramarathon. and i love that. running the marquette trail 50k reminded me to love it. that was two weekends ago and i’m still busy but loving every second. so, onto the race!so, two fridays ago my friend Angie picked me up at about 9am and we headed north. to the U.P. for those of you not in the midwest, i’m referring to the “Upper Peninsula” (the northern part of the state of michigan). after discussing how we had been confused about the time change that would occur once we left our home state, we had a pleasant drive up with lots of chatting and catching up the way you only do when you actually get a bunch of hours in the car with a friend and nothing but the open road ahead of you.

besides regular conversation, we talked a lot about what we thought the next day’s race might hold. would we be attacked by a cougar? how hard would the course actually be? how long do you think it will take you? what’s your goal? after this race, what’s the plan until the big show?

we talked and talked and laughed and we discussed stopping to buy knives to carry on the run in case of the aforementioned cougar attack and before we knew it we saw the hills or marquette, michigan ahead and lake superior as far as our eyes could see. we had arrived.

we went to packet pickup and got our numbers, then to dinner and before we knew it we were beginning to hunker down to attempt to get some pre-race zzz’s.

the 5am alarm clock came quickly, but i was awake and ready to go before i knew it. the awesome thing about small races is that we drove over and arrived about 20 minutes before the start. the race director did a roll-call and suddenly it was 6:30am and we were off!

once again, i didn’t get to really tell Ang good luck and we got spread out pretty quickly. there was only one place where i might have crossed paths with my friend on the course, but i hoped she knew that i was sending good juju her way all day.

the trails were flat out beautiful! there were times when i thought i was in Narnia or that i was Katniss (from the Hunger Games) just out there in my element. especially through the first 10 miles, i ran with a number of people. there was a group of us that stuck relatively close together, but as i dawdled at the second aid station, the group spread out. i didn’t mind though because i was toying with the idea of making a pit stop to relieve myself and also because when you’re out there in the woods like that there’s a whole lot of wonderful to be taken in when the trails are covered with pine needles just enough that you can barely hear your own feet meeting the ground.

did i mention before how beautiful it all was?

after the second aid station we had a long stretch to go until the next stop and there was a solid segment of trails which were very run-able (i’ll get to the hiking part in a minute). so, i continued to move forward, enjoying the scenery and reminding myself that once i made it to the 3rd aid station i would be just over halfway done.there was a moment in there – maybe a few moments when i reminded myself to take it all in.
that leg was about 7 miles long and included our first major climb. earlier in the race we had a bunch of rocky and rooty terrain to get across so there was some hiking and careful stepping but the next part was where we made our way up Sugarloaf Mountain. it’s a midwestern mountain, no doubt, but we don’t have much elevation like that in Wisconsin, so it was a special treat. actually, the treat was that instead of making our way up the “mountain” through the dirt, we marched up a total of 252 stairs.really, it was a treat and the cherry on top was the view!

first i snapped this.

i snapped a few pictures and then began my trek down, this time back on trails.
the trails led us along Lake Superior with some loose bluffs and a beach below where we were running. there was just one time when i saw a man strolling on the beach with his coffee and three dogs when i thought – i might rather be doing that right now, but i forged ahead.looking down to the lake from up where we were was amazing. lake superior is clear and chilly and much of the bottom is covered with stones. i’m sure there is some geological explanation for this, but i’m no scientist, so i can’t elaborate a lot. when i looked down i could see the beauty of that great lake, even though i was only getting a snapshot of its expanse.soon i caught up with a few others. one, whom we later deemed, “chicago,” because he kept going off course and we needed to get his attention and the other a woman from the madison area. we directed “chicago” back on course once and then he took off. a little later, a man who showed up at the start line in a kilt caught us and before i knew it he was ahead of us too and not long after that my running buddy from madison and i said goodbye, as well.

i’ll say one thing: for being a race of less than 100 people, total (for the 5mi and 50k combined), there was rarely a time when i felt really, really alone out on the trails. i hold those time in complete solitude in very high regard because there’s a sense of connection and respect that comes with being out there doing your thing.

and my mind rarely wandered from the task at hand and even just half a race completed, i felt a rush of peace come over me.

there were a few times when my mind did wander though. i mean, climbing Hogback Mountain, which sometimes required two hands had me occasionally thinking, “what am i doing?” and “how did i get myself into this” and more than once, “i could die up here.” i reminded myself not to look down as i climbed and climbed and there was only one time, when i was near the top of that summit when i thought, “thank god i haven’t seen the movie 127 hours yet!” because all i could think about was if my clumsy feet missed a step i might end up wedged precariously between two rocks. but i also reminded myself of my history of knocking my noggin hard and that a goal of mine for the race was, “NO concussions,” so along i went. up and up and up!!

obligatory self-shot…before Hogsback (i think)

i paused for a few minutes at the top. i paused to catch my breath. i paused to turn around and take some quick pictures with my phone and realized even then that my photos wouldn’t do justice to what i’d just done. i paused to take it all in.

the view, atop Hogsback.

and then i paused because i looked down and realized that i was about to head back down the other side of that little mountain just as i had come up. making my way over exposed bedrock instead of trails. taking my time to get my footing and calculate my next move. and a few times, scooting down on my butt.

there was no other way and just after i began my descent, another madisonian who had been a little ways behind me showed up above and said, “hey, how’d you get down there?” and i responded, “well first i pooped my pants a little and then i slid down.” i was joking about the pooping, and we both had a laugh and then we continued on – downwards!

but once i descended it was kind of like the homestretch. all i remember is down and down and down. it was still hard – at least mentally. ok, physically, too. my quads and IT bands were sore from the downhills, actually, but i knew what i had to do. get to the  next aid station.
between the descent from the top of hogsback to the end, i remember a few things. i remember those chocolate pretzel cookies at one of the aid stations. i stuffed one of those in my face. i stopped off in some tall grass in a corner to relieve myself…again. of of my running buddies had caught up with me again and shouted, “whatcha doing over there?” and then, “that’s a good spot.” i agreed, as i was also hoping i wasn’t squatting in poison ivy. and then i continued on once again.

another view from Hogsback. Lake Superior in the far background. exposed bedrock to be climbed down in the foreground.

next, my primary thought and goal was to make it, as quickly as possible, to the next aid station. to the last aid station before the end.
this was also the spot where 50 milers had to turn around to go back up Sugarloaf and Hogsback…AGAIN!
the aid station was also staffed by the cross country team from Northern Michigan University and i thought it was really cute. these young girls kept telling all of us how awesome they thought we were while their coach kept telling them to actually help the runners coming into the stop. i thanked them and said “good luck” to my 50 mile friends and headed toward the finish.
the last 5ish miles weren’t too rough. actually, the course was relatively easy compared to the last 20-some miles. i told myself to think about picking up my feet, to keep moving with purpose and to think about finishing strong. with a few miles to go – probably 2 or so, it began to rain. i was glad i was nearly finished. i was glad for the break in the early afternoon weather. the rain felt nice.
i ran on and on and made it my goal to make sure i finished under 8 hours. mostly because i figured it wouldn’t take me longer than that to begin with.
soon i began to recognize sights from the earliest part of the day. i hurdled (hopped over) some downed trees.
i crossed the railroad tracks.
and i came upon the bridge and the dam that i had seen when we first left the start line.
almost home. almost done. i could hear the finish line. i could almost see it. i ran my heart out and before i knew it, i had arrived.
my first 50k! two adorable and enthusiastic little girls handed me a can koozie and a towel. i promptly sat down, but before i did, i grabbed some peanut butter newman o’s (my favorite packaged cookie – for sure) and a cup of chocolate milk and THAT was my first real post-race food.
and i’ll tell you…winning combination!
i sat through a beer, estimating where and when my friend was and when she might be done. i was also sitting with chicago’s friend and a woman, Carol, whom i had run with early on and we chatted and cheered on finishers. not too long after, I saw Angie’s yellow shirt and purple-ish had come around the corner near the bridge!!!

finishing!!!

we were so excited because i had been talking about my friend. i was so glad to see her rounding that bend. we cheered and i snapped a picture of her and the buddy she had gained out there. it was great so see her come in, too, with a smile on her face. and also, just minutes before it began to really pour. the rain opened up a few minutes after Angie finished.
we sat around for a bit and then it really started to downpour so we quickly headed out. we finished our evening with hot showers, burgers, a few beers at Ore Dock Brewery (a brewery started by some friends of mine) and then bed!
it was an awesome weekend. from the company to the running to the scenery to the post-race festivities. it was all awesome.
what i wanted to say about this race – about the race – is that they have an awesomely gutsy race director who planned a really tough course. and he warned us. and he was also unapologetic about the toughness, too. the volunteers at packet pickup and especially at the aid stations and the finish line were GREAT. i mean, they were top-notch!!!
and the other thing i wanted to mention was a giant THANK YOU to my friend Angie for finding this race and for convincing me to do it with her. i would have never signed up for this on my own and i am indescribably grateful to have a friend who somehow gets me to push my comfort zone without me really feeling pushed. i honestly wound never, ever have signed up for this race on my own but i’m glad, i am proud, i am so happy that i did it.
when it all comes down to it – i like to race for the experience. it doesn’t matter so much if i am fast or slow or have a hard or easy day, but i love to be challenged and i love to do things i wouldn’t have done on my own. i’m so lucky. and i’m incredibly grateful, too!

number ten.

this is my tenth post in this new space and i’m going to celebrate it. not really because TEN is a huge milestone, but because i find it helpful to celebrate the steps.

right now i’m gearing up to move to a new home and doing some big things at work and so some of the time both running and writing about it has fallen a little to the wayside. at least in terms of quantity. i’m hoping the quality is up to par, though.

next week, a week from today, i’ll be heading North…way North (to another state) with my friend Angie to run (survive?) a 50k adventure. i’m excited that we’ll get to run along one of the most scenic shorelines in the USA, i’m excited to get some quality running time in with one of my favorite running buddies and i’m excited to spend some major time on my feet because my goal race is quickly approaching.

next weekend we’ll be running the Marquette Trail 50 along the shores of Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan.

checkout the website. no, really! in particular, i feel like anyone interested in this race should see the pictures.

and also, there was this note at the bottom of the website:

ok, so i’m really looking forward to just simply staying mostly upright and enjoying the day and well, staying alive!

and after that…and i’m sure i’ll have a great report to share with you all afterwards, i’m going to recover and then hit it hard for a few more weeks until the big show: The North Face Endurance Challenge.

if you’re even considering doing a race at this event, i think you should checkout this video:

in my opinion, the great thing about the Endurance Challenge is that there is a distance for everyone. and on top of that, if you’ve never run a trail race before, i would highly encourage you to give it a shot.

hint, hint: trail runners are especially awesome folks! (plus, you might even get to see Dean Kazarnes at the event!)

so, that’s my tenth post here. a little bit more about what’s been going on here and what’s to come and a push for you to checkout the Endurance Challenge. you can click through to the website, too, on my right sidebar —–>> (yes, over there) to the registration page to checkout prices and race distances.

i would LOVE to see you there!

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a case of the mondays.

i meant to get up for a run before work to start off my monday morning – to start off my work week, but my loud-y upstairs neighbor was banging around that he woke me up in the middle of the night and after i finally fell asleep again, i tossed and turned until i finally got out of bed.

and that along with my not drinking coffee and returning to work meant i was a little slow for most of the day. that’s not to say i didn’t get a fair amount of work done – i did! and i was pretty focused all day. except for when i decided to (remembered to) sign up for my upcoming 50k.

i must have 50 miles on the brain because i inadvertently hit the wrong race to register for….

and then i proudly posted on the race’s facebook page that i was all signed up. for 50k. but the facebook administrator (whom i assume is probably the race director, too) kindly commented below me that, well, see for yourself:

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i’m sure glad for the personal experience that is signing up for a race like this where the race director and also, my friend Angie, call me out for my nearly ridiculous blunders. oh, and i am more than grateful that the price for both races is the same so i can just transfer over to the correct distance.

oh boy, some days….

do you have days like that? mondays? other days of the week? what do you do to make it better?